Standing in Austin on St. Patrick's Day, learning that Alex Chilton was dead too soon -- this mere hours before we all expected to see him play a Big Star show -- you sorta wanted to ask the universe, "Why?" And then, the following Tuesday, we got the answer: God is merciful, and He didn't want Alex Chilton to see some chooch butcher the Box Tops biggest hit on American Idol.
The fact that there was even a Big Star to play SXSW was, in at least some measure, owed to Jeff Breeze, the Boston-based musician and rock scribe, who in 1993, as a sophomore in college, convinced Chilton to fly to Missouri: "When people ask me about that encounter, they
expect that he rode in on a big blue ox, instead of taking a puddle
jumper to mid Missouri," he writes in this week's Phoenix.
is, he stumbled into view, asked me to find someone with smokes, posed
for a couple of backstage photos, then took the stage and launched into
these long-dormant songs. The thing people don’t realize is that two
college-radio kids did this purely because we wanted to see our
favorite band — there was no payment exchanged. We gave Chilton money
for a plane ticket and a hotel room, and he came to play us songs.